The Dread Voyage Poems

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

HOW ONE WINTER CAME IN THE LAKE REGION


 

FOR weeks and weeks the autumn world stood still,
      Clothed in the shadow of a smoky haze;
The fields were dead, the wind had lost its will,
And all the lands were hushed by wood and hill,
      In those grey, withered days.
5

Behind a mist the blear sun rose and set,
      At night the moon would nestle in a cloud;
The fisherman, a ghost, did cast his net;
The lake its shores forgot to chafe and fret,
      And hushed its caverns loud.
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Far in the smoky woods the birds were mute,
      Save that from blackened tree a jay would scream,
Or far in swamps the lizard’s lonesome lute
Would pipe in thirst, or by some gnarlèd root
      The tree-toad trilled his dream.
15

From day to day still hushed the season’s mood,
      The streams stayed in their runnels shrunk and dry;
Suns rose aghast by wave and shore and wood,
And all the world, with ominous silence, stood
      In weird expectancy:
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When one strange night the sun like blood went down,
      Flooding the heavens in a ruddy hue;
Red grew the lake, the sere fields parched and brown,
Red grew the marshes where the creeks stole down,
      But never a wind-breath blew.
25

That night I felt the winter in my veins,
      A joyous tremor of the icy glow;
And woke to hear the north’s wild vibrant strains,
While far and wide, by withered woods and plains,
      Fast fell the driving snow.
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